Spiritual Development Alone will Lead to Universal Peace

Published: 28.09.2008
Updated: 30.07.2015

It is a matter of great joy for me to wish all of you increasing spiritual development at the onset of the new year. I believe that a person’s spiritual development is absolutely necessary along with his material development. Let us all resolutely assert that peace is impossible without spirituality. The first lesson of peace is the development of spiritual awareness and its practical form is ahimsa. We can find a cause-effect relationship between ahimsa and peace. Ahimsa is the cause and peace is its effect, its result. Let us not talk merely of peace, but before doing so we must assimilate ahimsa into our hearts.

The first principle of ahimsa is the purity of one’s thought, purity of one’s emotion and purity one’s deeds. We can practise it only by experiencing it in the totality of these conditions. If we do not have a feeling of equality towards all living beings, our dream of peace will just remain a daydream. It will never become a reality. In order to change it into reality, what is needed is the inculcation of a feeling of equality towards all creatures and the practical form that emerges from it is the human solidarity. Besides the legacy of anuvrat (a campaign exhorting people to commit themselves to some basic ethical norms), Acharya Tulsi also gave us an aphorism - let us have faith in the unity of humankind. It means an attitude of equanimity, a feeling of equality towards all, considering all human beings equal. No one is small or big, no one is low or high, no one is inferior or superior. After all a human being is just a human being.

The problem of the present age is that there is rampant discrimination on the grounds of caste and social status. It is this state of inequality today that is causing peacelessness or unrest in the world. If we really want peace, we must first of all develop a feeling of equanimity towards all.

Peace will prevail automatically when our thought of equanimity becomes stronger. The problem today is that the behaviour of man towards man is not as humane as is expected of him. In the present age, some people are living in a state of luxury, while there are others who are not even able to get enough food to satisfy their hunger. If the social consciousness of equality had been awakened earlier, the problems of hunger, poverty and persecution that we see today would not have arisen. Today the slogan of ‘human unity’ is reduced to a mere theoretical jargon. It is not being put into practice. Let us try to understand ahimsa and peace at an empirical level. If our behaviour is really associated with a feeling of unity, the world can be wholly transformed. It can even be completely rejuvenated.

Man’s attitude is not relativist. That is why big people do not expect much from small people and remain indifferent to their deplorable plight. Even in the socialistic ideology, we find that the individualistic mentality is rapidly growing. An individual himself is consuming resources excessively and is cutting off the line of supply for others.

The second principle of ahimsa is - ‘exercise restraint in the use of material resources’. Do not use the resources of the planet more than you need. You should bear in mind that these material resources are not for you alone, but are meant for the whole society, for the whole of humanity. If we go a little further, we can say that they are meant for all the living beings that inhabit this planet. Some people have grabbed these material resources and are using a major share of them for their own comforts. As a result we see an enormous gap between the rich and the poor. This disparity is the major cause of the current unrest. Let us think of bringing about reconciliation among different systems of thinking. Man’s mind is independent. It is not possible that all persons have a similar pattern of thinking. When we begin to regard this freedom of thought as something opposed to us, it creates a big problem. Let us learn to respect the freedom of thought. We should, rather, welcome a diversity of opinion. Man is not a machine which can be cast in a mould. Every man has his own mind, his own views. We should respect a view that doesn’t pose a threat to society.

Today I see an imminent threat to the very existence of humanity. Alarm bells are ringing. Fear and hegemony are predominant. It means that the tendency to impose one’s authority or sovereignty on others is getting stronger. That is why arms are being piled up. There is a race even for destructive nuclear weapons.

Nations are competing to build their arsenals and acquire the highest power of destruction. On the one hand we see nuclear arsenals and on the other hand there are piles of weapons of mass destruction. No one is paying heed to the talk of peace. We do not see harmony anywhere. We are sowing the seeds of unrest and are hoping for the fruit of peace. This will never be possible. The fruit comes from what we sow. It is an irony that we sow the seeds of the weapons of mass destruction and expect a crop of peace.

There ought to be a practical aspect of freedom, i.e. freedom from the narrow outlook rooted in casteism and sectarianism. One sect should respect the beliefs of another sect. We may think differently and may follow different practices of worship and our ways of paying obeisance to gods and goddesses or to God might also be different, but that diversity should not be interpreted as a synonym of antipathy or antagonism. Diversity doesn’t mean antagonism. It is the beauty of our way of thinking, our vision. We like a garden where different types of flowers bloom and which has many varieties of plants and trees. If all the flowers and trees are of the same type, the beauty of the garden will also diminish. What pains me most is that we change what is beautiful into violence and antipathy. Is it not the incomplete mentality of our thinking? Let us also ponder over this question.

Let us have self-introspection, self-criticism. We must not only think about others. On this occasion, let us review the past and look back to examine how our past year was. Let us not only look back on the year that has gone by, but also look forward to the coming year with auspicious thoughts, and pray for an auspicious future. Let us introspect and examine what  we did in the past and what we are going to do in the future. The talk of peace will remain incomplete till the review of the past, the thought of the present and the vision of the future are in harmony with one another. I wish that we abandon all epithets and think of an existence devoid of epithets. Our consciousness is not free from any label: it is influenced by our sect, our caste and our colour. Let us put religion into practice. Let us not regard religion as a mere testimony or symbol.

Acharya Tulsi said, “Man should set an example of morality, truth and integrity in his life.” Religion should not only be confined to places of worship, it should manifest itself in markets and offices as well. The religion enshrined in scriptures and sects should make its way into the places of work. If religion doesn’t integrate into business and offices, and we only over-emphasize its principles, I can not say to what extent it would really mean religion. We have to think of the changes that are necessary in the form of the religion that is in vogue today. If we do not think of changing the outmoded customary practices and insist on following dogmas, it doesn’t bode well for humanity.

Let us always think of something new. We must not merely carry the burden of old beliefs, but we should also learn to unburden our mind. The present age lacks an environment of openness. The tension that we see today might not have existed to this extent in the past. The main cause of the tension that we see today lies in man’s infatuation with wealth. Man is seized by his lust for wealth, which degenerates into deep infatuation. As a result, he is ignoring morality. This economic infatuation gives rise to crimes and unethical behaviour. All these problems emanate from man’s greed for wealth and from his straying away from the world of higher consciousness.

We are all sentient beings. Every human is a sentient being. He has knowledge, but the difficulty is that he doesn’t associate as much with those who have a state of higher consciousness as he does with the material objects. Therefore, it is imperative that we talk of ahimsa for the sake of peace, and think of limiting our consumption and accumulation of material objects for the sake of ahimsa. If these ethical norms become a part of our life’s daily routine, the dream of peace may come true. What are the causes of tension, diseases and depression? The answer to this question lies in the fact that man is drifting away from his own existence and is getting associated with material objects. Without finding out a solution for this problem the problem of stress and depression can not be solved. Mere medicines and hospitals can not help us to get rid of diseases unless we think over the causes that give rise to them.

I plead for peace and nonviolence. I myself know very well that this can not be accomplished merely through sermons, discourses and messages. A change may occur in our thoughts and beliefs, but it may turn out to be a short-lived impact. A thought that reaches the domain of our conscious mind only may not last long. Its impact on our mental attitude will be transitory until it is able to make its way into the unconscious mind. In order to transmit thoughts into the unconscious mind, we have to undergo rigorous practice. Without that it is not possible. Let us therefore think of practice and training. In the present system of education, great emphasis is placed on students’ intellectual development. They are also learning strategies for technological development, but are not taught how to develop their emotional competence. Today training in ahimsa is not imparted to students. I believe that without training and practice mere discourses in ahimsa will degenerate into the futility of verbal exercise. It will fail to bring about any change in society. If we want to transform society, we will have to change our lifestyle and our way of working. The greatest solution lies in a self-restrained lifestyle. There is one main slogan of the Anuvrat Movement i.e. “self-restraint is life.”

In my opinion, the highest precept for solving the problem of the present is self-restraint. Today innumerable people are suffering on account of the unrestrained behaviour of some individuals. The lack of self-restraint on the part of one individual can make the lives of several individuals miserable. We should ponder over the question of self-restraint and self-control. We should not think of controlling others, but should think of controlling our emotions and awakening our inner consciousness. The more a person’s inner consciousness is awakened, the more perfect will be the solution of the problem. We will not succeed if we try to find a solution on the external level only.

A boy came and lit the lamp. The saint asked “Where has the light come from?” The boy blew the lamp out and put a counter question “Where has the light gone?” No one knows from where the light comes and where it goes. It is a problem, and it is we who have to find a solution. We will also have to find a solution of the problem as to where unrest is coming from and where peace is going. Let us not continue to grapple with the problem and throw pebbles in the darkness, but we should move with the light and find out a solution. The way to the solution of the problem lies in a state of consciousness, that is free from tension, fear and dogmatic insistence.

Let us practise pious thought and celebrate it with great joy. May this joy become our permanent attribute and may we succeed in collecting such resources as may make the future auspicious and prosperous.


  • The above message of His Holiness Acharya Mahapragya was realesed on Jan 1, 2007. Now it appears in the form of a leading article of this journal. Excerpts from some of the comments and views received from individuals and organizations from various parts of the world are reproduced below for the benefit of our readers.    
    Anuvibha Editor

  • May the God of peace delight to dwell within you. I have read the attachment containing His Holiness Acharya Mahapragya’s New Year Message. Theologically this is the crème de la crème of messages on the world’s conditions. I have never read finer. Nor more direct. Nor more inviting! Thank you! This causes me to ask how I would come to learn more of the ANUVRAT movement. I have been blessed with the meeting and having audience with HH Acharya Mahapragya. Keep all this good news coming as I need it right now and evermore.
    Rev. Delmer Robinson, Arch Bishop, USA

  • Thank you very much for sharing this inspiring message. I hope that these gentle, wise and powerful words will amplify and resonate around the world, moving the hearts and minds of many and helping accelerate a full and peaceful transition to a saner, vibrant, sustainable world.
    Michael Ben-Eli
    An eminent scholar and campaigner for sustainability in the world, USA

  • Thanks for sending me Acharya Mahapragya’s New Year’s Message. Everywhere in the world the social and political order is threatened with corruption, disintregation and violence. What will replace the old order? Does the human race possess the courage to renounce greed and militarism? Please thank His Holiness for all his efforts to wake us up to the real possibility of civilisation on earth.
    Bill Hogan
    ormer associate of Martin Luther King, Ireland

  • Thank you so much for this message with which I wholeheartedly concur…. Do pass on my very best regards to Acharya Mahapragya… I will of course circulate these thoughts among IIPSGP friends and colleagues, and my students, some of whom I hope will be able to visit in January as discussed… I have discussed the principle of MOU with my school and headmaster and they are indeed willing - and asked me to negotiate the details with you direct.
    Thomas Daffern, Rector,
    Global Green University and Director IIPSGP, UK

  • Thank you for Acharya Mahapragya’s Message. I will translate it into Japanese and pass it to other Japanese members. I would also like to post at least the essence thereof onto the website which Emi is now working to develop as well as on some other web communities and bulletins in Japan.
    Masato Nakamura
    A colleague of Sakamoto, Japan

  • Many thanks for sending me the message from His Highness Acharya Mahapragya with regard to the solutions of the problems relating to environmental and ecological depredation,ethnic and religious violence and abject poverty. The message has international importance. Concepts of AHIMSA YATRA and ANUVRAT MOVEMENT, if followed by world leaders and applied in the solution of problems relating to world peace, poverty and environment could be achieved with little investment of resources.
    Motilal Sharma
    Former Education Officer at The Asian Bank, Manila

  • I do agree with you on the matter that we must switch over to a nonviolent lifestyle. Pure capitalism without ethical value is doing more harm than good to all of us. But will the cure be better than the illness of todays?
    Thannarong (Nae) Viboonsunti
    Professor of Economics, Thailand

  • Many thanks for passing along the message of His Holiness Acharya Mahapragya. We are completely in agreement with its sentiments, and agree in particular that a true spirituality is needed before peace is possible. We trust that His message will receive a wide readership,
    Dominic Dibble, World Goodwill

  • Thank you for sending your e-mail and the wonderful attachment. It is so good, that I have asked my computer specialists to place it on the IOU web site. That is for us the best way to spread the message of His Holiness Acharya Mahapragya.
    Jan R. Hakemulder, International President, Intercultural Open University (IOU), The Netherlands

  • Thank you so much for sending the inspirring message of HH Acharya Mahapragya. Here in Europe it is the Spring Exquinox, a time of renewal and in Iran, Afghanistan and much of Central Asia it is the New Year, a time of leaving behind the old and taking on the positive new. Thus the message sent is universal.
    Rene Wadlow
    Editor, Transnational Perspectives, Switzerland

  • Peace without nonviolence is inconceivable. nonviolence is peace, justice, compassion and affirmative acceptance. I consider nonviolence to be the fundamental truth of human striving and a life of meaning and self-awareness. Acharya Mahapragya’s life and message is truth, nonviolence and compassion. We adore him because he personifies nonviolence in action.
    L.M. Singhvi
    Former High Commissioner, UK

  • Thank you very much for translating this important article by His Holiness Mahapraghya and sending it to me. I will forward it to the uri-listserve. It is good to have friends in the spirit of  Ahimsa. Many thanks and blessings.
    Sally Mahé
    Director, Organizational Development
    United Religions Initiative, San Francisco, CA, USA

  • At yesterday’s presentation at the mosque I incorporated Acharyaji’s message of Purity of Thought, Deed and Emotion, that you sent as part of his New Year’s message.
    Arvind Vora
    One of the founders of JAINA USA and an eminent Jain leader of USA

  • Thank you for sending the HH Acharya Mahapragya message released on the eve of the new year 2007 for the awakening of our consciousness, which  gets dormant if not refreshed again and again. The  message of HH Acharya Mahapragya which focuses on equanimity, equality, judicious use of resources and avoidance of unnecessary use and collection of materials, self-restraint, introspection by self-criticisms etc. keeping all of them at the  axis of nonviolence is really a very thought-provoking  and direction-oriented message for all people of current age.
    Mohan Kharel
    Associate Professor, Nepal

  • Thank you for your kind message of Acharya Mahapragya Jee. We also feel that Ahimsa alone can bring peace in this troubled world. In this context I have a suggestion, all the office bearers of the Jain institutions should take pledge before assuming any office in the Jain society that they will not take liquor and non-vegetarian food nor will they entertain guests with the same. If we all join together to follow the message, it will definitely be effective.
    N. Sugalchand Jain
    Founder of Mahavira Award, Chennai (India)

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        1. Acharya
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        6. Anuvibha
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        20. Michael Ben-Eli
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        25. Tulsi
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